Introduction: Making a Hardwood Ring Without a Lathe
This is a project that I have wanted to do for a long time now. The middle finger on my right hand has a stupidly big knuckle so finding a standard ring that fits is rather hard. My only option was to have one custom made or make it myself.
One of the guys I now on Instagram run a scrap wood challenge, the fun thing about this was that if we posted a video it had to be under 3 minutes long. I used this as an excuse to make myself a lovely hardwood ring with some really cool colours.
If I were you, I would start by watching the video so you can see what the process looked like. This was one of my favourite projects to do and I love the end result.
I wanted to prove that you don’t need to have a lathe to make this sort of this.
H&S WARNING There are some very close to the knuckle techniques here but have my word the camera makes it look a lot closer than it really is. I was always being safe and thought about what I was doing beforehand.
Below is a list & links to all the materials & tools I used. Some aren't the exact tools but they are close enough.
- Purple Heart
- Unknown board
Step 1: Choosing the Wood
I definitely wanted to use Purple heart for a project and this was a good reason to “borrow” a small offcut from a friend. Dom (@waywardwood68 on Instagram) was nice enough to send me a lovely block that I could use.
I also wanted some Padauk in there as the orange/red of that would is just beautiful. I wanted a lighter colour, so I went for some oak and I also had a random board that I got from the scrap bin at B&Q which I don’t know what it is. It was extremely hard though.
I was aiming for contrast, that was my main goal, try to get a few layers of different species of wood that would look awesome together.
Step 2: Sizing the Wood
This was more complicated than I would like to admit. Right at the start of the build my bandsaw sort of imploded in on itself and was unusable. This means that there was going to be some “interesting” cuts on the table saw. I would advise anyone else doing the cuts like this, but I was under a time crunch and did everything I could to be safe.
I cut a small sliver of purple heart on the table saw, I wanted it only 2-3mm thick. It was the same for the Padauk, but I needed to resaw these as well. As I said I couldn’t use the bandsaw, so I had to use the table saw for that as well. I took a few passes raising the blade a little bit each time.
The rest were almost the right size as they were offcuts from a mini tool build I did a while ago.
Because I didn’t have the bandsaw and the thicknesser wouldn’t do well with the length of boards I was using I used the surface planer to cut the thickness down a bit. I used my gripper thing to hold it in place while I ran it across as I definitely didn’t want my fingers near it.
Step 3: Glueing Together
All sized up and ready for glue I added a small amount of Titebond original wood glue. In hindsight, I should have used Titebond 2 as this has water-resistant properties. For some reason I didn’t think it would be getting wet but obviously, I’m not going to take it off when something spills, or it rains outside.
Getting them roughly in line was difficult as they were so small pieces but I just about got them in the right place and use spring clamps to hold it together. I put more on than needed but I really wanted to get some solid pressure on it, I couldn’t afford any gaps.
Step 4: Squaring Up & Sizing the Inside
I started this step by getting a block I can work with. Because I had some longer scraps I didn’t bother cutting them down first. I took the block to my Milwaukee mitre saw and got it to roughly square.
Once I had something I could work with I needed to make the whole for my finger. I needed a 24mm hole, unfortunately, I only had a 20mm or 25mm Forstner bit. This meant that I had to try and sand the inside while keeping it round. I use the 20mm Forstner bit to hog out the middle, I started on one side and then flipped it over halfway through. I didn’t want any blowout on the back, so this was the easiest way of stopping it.
I used my Triton oscillating belt sander but swapped the belt out for the 1inch spindle sander. This just about fit inside the hole and I could slowly start to sand it down while testing it on my finger. It took a while, but I eventually got it to fit nicely. I needed to take it down slightly more, but I know when I used the higher grit later it would loosen a little more.
Step 5: Cutting the Profile & Sanding the Outside
Now that I had the inside where I wanted it, it’s down to business and doing the outside. You know, the bit that slightly more important.
I took the block to the newly fixed bandsaw in order to cut away the excess rather than sanding it down. Again this looks closer than it is and worked really well. You can really start to see the colours come through at this point.
I struggled to work out how to keep it even on all sides while taking a lot of the waste away. The right was roughly 6mm ish thick and needed to be much thinner. I ended up making a jig that I could attach to the sander and rotate the ring around it. I could then just move the jig closer when it started to not take any material away.
This worked really well and I got the ring to roughly the thickness I wanted. Again, I know that going up the grits would remove a bit more so I left a little more than needed.
Step 6: Shaping the Ring
It was now time to add a small bevel to out outside so it was so square more much more comfortable.
I used the table tilt feature of the Triton sander in order to do this. I dropped it just a little as I didn’t want a large angle off it just a small bevel. This was interesting as I couldn’t use the jog so had to freehand it. I just about kept it round but there were some uneven spots. This isn’t a bit problem at the moment as when I do my final sanding they should be removed.
Step 7: Finial Sanding & Finishing
I needed to try and spin the ring in order to keep the ring round, this is why its easier to make a ring on the lathe. I rigged up a rudimentary jog for my drill, this was a bit of oak down with some electrical tape wrapped around. It worked really well and I tapped the button on so it would rotate at a steady pace. I then worked my way from 100 grit up to 400 grit. The ring got super smooth in the end and looked great.
Unfortunately, this is where it all went wrong. I decided to use danish oil as the finish as asking a few friends in the biz this is what they recommended. When I first put the ring in to have a bit of a soak it looked fine, better than fine really, but in the end, it went darker and darker and you couldn’t see the difference between the wood. Because this was a gift to myself and I didn’t like it I started again from scratch.
Step 8: Starting the Whole Process Again
So, in the end, I did restart. I wasn’t happy with the ned look, and because I wasn’t happy I didn’t want it to represent my work.
This time it was easier as I had repaired and correctly set up my bandsaw. I had a slice of purple heart and padauk left so I just needed to resaw a bit of oak. It was then the exact same process. Glue up, sanding, more sanding, a little more sanding and then finish. This time I used what I knew and used Osmo polyx oil.
Step 9: End Results
I am very happy with how the second ring turned out. It was much lighter than the first and felt a little bit more comfortable to wear. I am so happy with the look of it and a lot of people how asked me to make one for them now too.
I really enjoyed making this and testing my skills. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you did you might enjoy following me on social media:
If you decide to make something similar, I would love to see what you did & how it turned out. If you have any questions please feel free to ask any in the comments and I will be happy to answer them.
Participated in the